Sorry, mum and dad — Indian shooting star bans parents from foreign trips

India’s Manu Bhaker attends a practice session for the mixed team 10m air pistol ahead of the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang on Aug. 18, 2018. (AFP/Mohd Rasfan)
Updated 18 August 2018

Sorry, mum and dad — Indian shooting star bans parents from foreign trips

  • The 16-year-old has brought home World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medals this year
  • The Asian Games promises to be the toughest field yet for her

PALEMBANG, Indonesia: Teenage shooter Manu Bhaker said she’s told her parents not to accompany her to tournaments abroad as she struggles to adapt to life as one of India’s best known sportswomen.
The 16-year-old has brought home World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medals this year in a sudden rise to fame, and is one of the favorites at the Asian Games in Indonesia.
But she is finding that success comes at a price, with a tough training schedule and a restrictive lifestyle that means less time with friends and a one-hour daily time limit for using her mobile phone.
Bhaker said she had resorted to banning her parents from her overseas trips as she tries to carve out a slice of freedom.
“They make limits for me, like, ‘Eat that, eat this, don’t go there, do this, don’t do this, don’t use your phone, don’t do this now, go to bed,’” she tells AFP before a training session in Palembang, which is co-hosting the Asian Games along with Jakarta.
“It’s a bit too much.”
Bhaker’s day kicks off at 5am with yoga and meditation, and ends with a jog and bootcamp-style workout.
But perhaps most punishing of all, she and the other ‘juniors’ on the Indian team are only allowed one hour with their phones each day.
In spite of her age, Bhaker is competing at senior level for the 25m sports pistol and both the individual and mixed team 10m air pistol.
She is proud of her achievement but, yes, the unfairness does grates when she sees older members of her team.
“They’re seniors. They’re free. They can do anything they want,” she says wistfully of her team-mates. “They can use their phones any time.”
Bhaker swept to fame at the beginning of this year by becoming the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the World Cup, a feat she achieved the individual 10m air pistol and the mixed team event.
She then climbed back on the podium once again at Australia’s Gold Coast in April, setting a Commonwealth Games record of 240.9 points for the 10m air pistol.
The Asian Games promises to be the toughest field yet with the world number nine taking on fourth-ranked Ji Xiaojing of China.
Life on the road takes its toll too.
Bhaker says she has spent fewer than 10 days at her home in Haryana state since February and knows her studies have suffered in spite of some tuition on the road.
She also admits she feels lonely sometimes.
“Your friends are like, ‘No, we can’t have fun with her. She’s a Commonwealth gold medallist — we must respect her,’” she says. “Your friend circle decreases.”
Her coach Jaspal Rana agrees the cycle of competitions and training camps is tough for youngsters who often crave normality.
But they need to decide what they want out of life, he says.
“People come and go. But there are few people who become real champions, real heroes — so you need to work for that.”


‘Biggest fight on the planet’ - Tickets go on sale for ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Saudi Arabia

Updated 1 min 30 sec ago

‘Biggest fight on the planet’ - Tickets go on sale for ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Saudi Arabia

  • First heavyweight world title fight in the Middle East
  • New tourism visas launched by Kingdom mean it has never been easier for boxing fans to flock to the fight

RIYADH: Tickets for the biggest boxing bout on the planet – the Clash on the Dunes – between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, go on sale on Sunday night.

The two are set to clash on Dec. 7 in the Diriyah Arena, a purpose-built arena for 15,000 fans, as Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua attempts to recapture the belts taken from him by Andy ‘Destroyer’ Ruiz Jr earlier in the year.

Boxing fans from across the region and around the globe from Sunday onwards can get their tickets to the fight, which includes new super-fast tourist visas recently launched the Kingdom.

It will be the first world heavyweight title fight ever to be staged in the Middle East and forms part of the month-long Diriyah Season, a spectacular season of world-class sport, global entertainment, and culture, launched last week at a glittering ceremony in the ancient city, the birthplace of modern Saudi Arabia on the outskirts of Riyadh.

Due to the unique venue, being staged outside of the UK or the US, the fight has already seen parallels drawn in the media to some of the most iconic fights in history, such as Muhammad Ali's fights against George Foreman - "the Rumble in the Jungle" - and Joe Frazier - the "Thrilla in Manila.”

The launch followed the recent announcement that travelers from 49 countries across the world can now secure tourist visas online in just seven minutes to attend the festival and its events.

HRH Prince Khaled bin Abdulaziz, Chairman of Skill Challenge Entertainment (SCEE), said: “This is a historic moment for Saudi Arabia welcoming the first world heavyweight championship, as a nation we have started to pave the way for becoming a global player in the sports and entertainment industry and we have witnessed a real appetite for the boxing sport.

“This is the biggest fight that has taken place in the region to date and we are bringing it to Saudi Arabia on December 7 – the world is watching us and we promise to deliver an unparalleled experience. SCEE are a proud partner of the GSA bringing Clash on the Dunes to Diriyah Season, 2019.”

Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who is also Anthony Joshua’s manager, said: “This is the biggest boxing match on the planet, and it will be taking place in one of the most unique venues ever.

“We already know there is a great passion for boxing in the Kingdom, but AJ and Andy will want their fans to come and support them, from across the region and from the UK and the US and Mexico.

“It’s great news that these tourism visas have been launched, that’s a big step forward for the country and it means that boxing fans wherever they are can come witness an unmissable night. This fight will go down in history as one of the greats.”

Tickets go on sale at 9pm KSA time (10pm UAE, 7pm UK and 2pm US) and are available at www.diriyahseason.sa.